Hermosa and Other Cities Sue L.A. to Force Airport Record Disclosure

APRIL 12, 2001

Hermosa Beach is taking the lead in a lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles and the operators of LAX, claiming that public records were withheld in an ongoing dispute over jetliner flights taking off above the beach cities. The lawsuit by the cities of Hermosa, Redondo Beach and Rancho Palos Verdes seeks information dating back to 1996 on nighttime departures from LAX to Asia, information on missed approaches to two runways, and information on procedures to muffle noise from the airport.

Some beach cities officials say that bothersome over-flights from LAX have increased in the last few years as plans are made to expand the airport. They contend that the changes in flight routes were made without an environmental review required by law. The lawsuit claims that the information being sought about LAX is a matter of public record.

In a Jan. 4 letter to attorneys representing the coastal cities, Los Angeles Assistant City Attorney Raymond S. Ilgunas wrote that the airport’s operators were "taking the demanding steps necessary" to provide "a myriad of documents" that were requested. Ilgunas wrote that it would "take a substantial amount of time and effort to locate and gather together" the documents and to review whether public records laws demand their release.

The lawsuit seeks "documents and communications" including computer printouts, emails and computer disks. It also contends that officials received verbal assurances that the materials would be handed over.

JR Reviczky, a member of the Hermosa Beach City Council’s subcommittee on LAX matters, said officials have been seeking the information for about six months. "My sincere wish is that we didn’t have to file lawsuits at all. Why would they deny us access to public records? It’s frustrating," he said. "Some of the documents were promised to us by both [the LAX operators] and the FAA, and it’s never come," Reviczky said.